New York’s Joe Bean takes on the complex subject of gender issues in coffee in blog series
Wade Reed of Joe Bean in New York wrote to tell us about the efforts he and his staff have recently put into examining the topic of gender in specialty coffee, both interactively within thie company, and on the company’s public blog.
“I wanted to write to tell you that Joe Bean’s blog has been addressing the issue of Women in Coffee over the last week, and a lot of it is based on the recent series of three articles in BMag on the same topic. So, first of all, thanks! Some of the numbers and perspectives offered in that series really helped us produce ours…
I don’t know if you know this about Joe Bean, but two of the three managing partners are women, our wholesale director is a woman, our newest roaster, as well. Our bar is staffed male/female nearly evenly, and our newest PA/Barback is female, as well. At every level, it seems we have a lot of female influence, and listening to the women of Joe Bean respond to this issue has been a real privilege for me.”
We were thrilled to hear this from Wade! And we commend his efforts to shine a light on the issue both at Joe Bean and in the larger industry. I encourage you to check out the series on Joe Bean’s blog ”there’s a lot of good, meaty stuff to think about.
First, Wade’s editorial summary of the series:
Joining the conversation on women in coffee for a week would never do, so we’re creating a permanent page with all of these posts on it. We are happy to be a way-station in this conversation, and that page is likely to grow over time. If you have read anything here that you feel requires a long-form response and you have a forum for that, such as a blog or some form of social media, feel free to link to our page.
An $11,000 wage gap across genders among salaried employees is a real problem. Stories like the one that spurred Sabine Parrish to research gender representation in specialty coffee are real problems. The perception of lower technical skill or less competence is a real problem. Intimidation from coworkers is a real problem. But what does change look like? How do we begin untying these complex knots?
“I think that, as an industry, the fact that there is so much conversation and awareness building puts us ahead of the game.” This characteristic optimism from Katie, Joe Bean’s wholesale director, leads us in a good direction for the beginning of change. Listening to and interacting with the experiences of women who are this far out in front of the thinking on these issues is the best way to generate a broad-based conversation. Thoroughly exploring the problems, hearing strategies for how they’ve been addressed, trumpeting successes, hospitably confronting offending parties: these are only a few examples of the power available to us, just by having this conversation. In the kind of environment where those things can occur, change is far more likely.
In the meantime, we have to hold on to inspiration where it can be found. Personally, I have been deeply impacted by the women who are willing to stand up and stand out on this issue. There were a lot of things I needed to hear and there are still more to come, but I can sense changes in my thought processes taking hold because I’ve been moved throughout this conversation. And there’s no shortage of sources for this inspiration.
There’s a resource in this conversation that we have brushed up against, but not specifically talked about, yet: the truly amazing stories of women who succeed in coffee-growing countries. I have been very eager to share something our owner Kathy said about women we have had contact with at origin. This year we started buying a coffee from Mirsa Indira Robles Ramirez in Chiapas, Mexico. Mirsa is hands-down one of the best stories we have connected heard. A pillar of her community, head of her family, successful coffee farmer, and only female representative of the coop to which she belongs, Mirsa has produced the overwhelming staff-favorite coffee at Joe Bean this year.
“To think about what those women overcome to be successful farmers and just live professional lives, makes me feel like I can definitely do the same.” It is true that disparity at origin is still very real. But in the face of hardships rarely even approached here in the global north, those women who do succeed are the true leaders and exemplars of the potential for change on this issue.
LINKS TO JOE BEAN BLOG ARTICLES ON GENDER ISSUES:
Women in Coffee: How Numbers and Perceptions Perpetuate the Divide
Women in Coffee: Where to Join the Conversation
Women in Coffee: A Week-Long Conversation at Joe Bean
GENDER SERIES ARTICLES IN BARISTA MAGAZINE:
Women’s Work: Gender in the Global North
Gender Survey Results Analysis